London: Chatto & Windus, 1879. Bound in three-quarter red morocco with gilt-paneled spines, red cloth boards, marbled endpapers.
First Edition of this novel about "fallen leaves... the people who have drawn blanks in the lottery of life... the friendless and the lonely, the wounded and the lost."
The novel follows the fortunes of four women, all in one way or another 'fallen leaves', who are linked by their relationship with the hero, Amelius Goldenheart, and also by secrets from the past. Their histories are looked at from two perspectives: that of the ruthless capitalist society of England in which they live, and that of the Christian Socialism of the hero who has been brought up in a Utopian community in America. Collins modeled his description on the Oneida communities of New England, in which sexual relationships were not restricted to marriage but had to be sanctioned by the elders [Gasson].
Perhaps appropriately, Collins dedicated this book "To Caroline [Graves]", the woman with whom he lived, unmarried, almost continuously from 1858 until his death in 1889. The title pages read "First Series" because a second "series" was planned (which would have shown an unconventional marriage failing because of outside pressures); however the First Series did not sell well, so that idea was abandoned.
THE FALLEN LEAVES was originally published in ivy-decorated mustard-olive (condiment-colored) cloth, but this copy is rebound in three-quarter red morocco with gilt-paneled spines, with red cloth-covered boards, by "Rivière & Son" (that 1832 bookbinding firm was so-named beginning in 1880 and ending in 1939). The first two volumes' half-titles are included in the rebinding, but the Vol III one is not, nor is the ad catalogue that typically appears in Vol II.
Condition is fine and bright. This is quite a scarce title -- Sadleir ranked it 10th in scarcity among Collins's novels; this is the first time we have offered this first edition in our 40+ years in business. Gasson pp 59-60; curiously not in Sadleir's (XIX) collection; Sadleir (Excursions) p. 147; Parrish & Miller pp 110-112; Wolff 1351.
Provenance: each volume bears the small leather bookplate of W.A. Foyle, Beeleigh Abbey: Foyle (1885-1963) co-founded with his brother Gilbert the legendary W & G Foyle Bookshop in 1903 (do the math), and became quite a collector as well. Item #14839